Monday, January 19, 2015


Each year for Christmas I buy myself a present.  Let me try that again: I buy my children a present that is not truly for them but is actually for me.  Sometimes it is something I yearned for as a child, something simple like the box of Crayola crayons with a bazillion crayons in it and a sharpener on the back of the box that I will enjoy with them as we pick just the right shade of blue for our drawings of the ocean.  Or, it is a more extravagant gift that is something I think my childhood self would have adored. I spend embarrassingly too much money to be reminded that my children are not, well, me.  This year I bought another gift for me, I mean, for them that was in fact treasured by the younger me.

It was a book that I'm pretty sure was picked up from a monthly Scholastic flyer in the 80's, and I loved it.  There are two books from my childhood that I remember spending hours and hours looking through the pages, absorbing every detail of the illustrations, and this was one.   I could close my eyes and recall, with incredible detail, whole pages from this book that I have not seen in over 25 years.  This year for Christmas, I bought my children a piece of my childhood.

The book is Barbapapa's Ark, with strong, if oversimplified environmental messages.  As I paged through this book as an adult, it was as wonderful as I remembered it as a kid, and I was left with a chicken or egg pondering.  Did this book speak to me as a child because I had a strong connection to nature -or- did this book in its not-so-covert messaging influence my understanding of the natural world and a strong desire to protect our natural resources?  Either way, this book was a foundation of my literacy as a child.

The real gift for me this year has not been the actual book, though I would be lying if I didn't say the inner child in me still loves reading it and is so happy to be reunited.  The real gift has been watching my children.  They are also lovers of the natural world, and this simple Scholastic reader speaks to something in them as well.  I watch as they take in the details of the story as it is read to them, and then my breath is taken away when I catch them later, on their own, pouring over the images and committing them to memory.  My children are not me, but they do have a little part of me, in them.

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